Iran Calls for “Grand Bargain” Dealmaking to Begin


Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif far outclasses Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ambassador Zarif is a savvy, friendly, intellectually acute diplomat — considered by other diplomats as “one of the best” in the business, according to one former US Ambassador I spoke to earlier today.
Zarif has a powerfully logical op-ed in the New York Times today, “How Not to Inflame Iraq.”
This article takes a shot at the logic of occupation, and I largely agree with Zarif’s view. However, I do believe that there are occupations that have gone right and that while I totally opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, there was nonetheless still a path to getting things more right than they have gone.
But if Zarif reflects the approach of Iran’s Supreme Leader, then there may be real opportunity for a convergence of some American and Iranian interests. But if Zarif, who is so obviously, framing policy in ways dissimilar from Iran’s President is not indicative of the views of the state, then there seems little hope in avoiding a disastrous collision.
Here is Ambassador Zarif’s call for “grand bargain-ing”:

The Persian Gulf region is in dire need of a truly inclusive arrangement for security and cooperation. Only through such regional cooperation, with the necessary international support, can we contain the current crisis and prevent future ones.
I wrote in these pages almost four years ago that the removal of Saddam Hussein provided a unique opportunity to finally realize the long sought objective of regional confidence-building and cooperation, as well as to reverse the dangerous trend of confrontation, exclusion and rivalry.
We have lost many valuable opportunities to effect this arrangement, with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives shattered in the interim. The forthcoming meeting of Iraq’s neighbors, to be held in Baghdad next month, will be a good place to begin this difficult but necessary journey toward regional security.

More later — on a big conference I am helping to organize on Iran next Wednesday in the US Senate.
— Steve Clemons


18 comments on “Iran Calls for “Grand Bargain” Dealmaking to Begin

  1. John says:

    Marky–That’s the $64 Trillion question: why won’t Steve and Flynt talk about it? We know who carries the big censorship stick for Israel. Who carries it relative to those “vital strategic interests?” And why are so many so willing to be complicit in silence?


  2. Diane says:

    Upcoming conference in Baghdad? How can that be secured? Are they really meeting in Baghdad?


  3. PW says:

    Zarif is terrific — educated, articulate, experienced, and way outclasses his counterparts here. He just aced an interview on NPR and his NY Times piece was pretty much on target. The problem is he’s dealing with Ahmadinejad who is, far as I can see, a mirror image of W. Except Ahmadinejad has someone to rein him in. Please keep us posted on the Iran conference. Do you keep an email list? Will CSpan cover it?


  4. Marky says:

    It’s been my belief for years that Cheney conceived of the Iraq war as a starting point for a strategy to lock China out of the ME.
    The idea that the war might be about competing for fossil fuels with China is extrmely obvious and natural, but it doesn’t even get consigned to the loony bin of leftism—it’s just not mentioned at all.


  5. John says:

    The foreign policy and national security mafia are still at it. They want you to believe that it’s all about Iran’s nuclear weapons, which just happen to be years away in terms of weaponization. But they won’t expose what US intentions are really about–those mysterious “vital strategic interests.” The same people that framed the Iraq war, false pretenses and all, are back at it.
    So what is it really about? Here’s my suspicion –Washington is petrified that Iran might sell its natural gas to India and China instead of Europe. Big Oil would be cut out of the deal. US influence would suffer as Asian militaries protect the flow.
    Given these developments, why don’t Steve and Flynt Leverett talk about them? Isn’t distribution of natural gas an integral part of any grand bargain?


  6. Punchy says:

    But…but…but…what’s this got to do with Anna Nicole Smith?


  7. Al says:

    President Ahmadinejad’s real views are summarized on this website:


  8. john o. says:

    What KJ said. Even if Zarif is off the reservation, no collision is necessary. We simply need to behave rationally, like grown ups, and mindful of the evidence and risks. We must also put petty political concerns aside. If we do that, there will be no war with Iran.


  9. tucker's bow tie says:

    Each year that the apparently most auspicious two months for aggressive war making in the Middle East roll around – March and April – and with these people still in office, everyone is just holding their collective breath……?!?!?!?
    PUSH BACK I say! PUSH BACK!!!!!
    Shout it from the rooftops!
    Where are all the voices ******from the same time last year****** that outlined in stark terms just what a f*** disaster a war with Iran is going to be?
    Where is the public debate?
    Is everyone just fascinated by this perverse slow motion tanker collision that is the American ship of State?


  10. Pissed Off American says:

    “Why is there “little hope in avoiding a disasterous collision”?”
    Maybe he is talking about the “disastrous collision” that occurs when Bush and Ohlmert’s lies collide with reality.


  11. bryanwilkins says:

    Ayatollah Ali Khammenai has taken over control of Ira’s foreign policy and is sending emmisary to Munich this weekend to meet with European and US officials. See stratfor’s AM intel brief.


  12. steambomb says:

    What really pisses me off about our situation in Iraq is that, it is almost like a setup to go to war with Iran. Who in their right mind wouldn’t expect Iran to “meddle” in Iraq affairs after we went in and opened it up for them? This is like the administration fulfilling their own damn prophecies. I am so fucking angry right now at our administration it is hard to see straight. The rest of the world sees through all our bullshit just like the reasonable thinkers in America do. I am sure I will be pissed off even more once all the treasonous details come out in the Plame trial.


  13. KJ says:

    Why is there “little hope in avoiding a disasterous collision”? You write as there the US has no choice in this . . . if the Iranians don’t shape up, we will be “forced” to do something disasterous . . . nonsense. This is exactly the kind of thinking that enables disasterous things to happen, and you can’t after the fact disassociate yourself from these things by claiming you were against them. This thinking from the DC establishment gives the political space for this belligerence! This gently-gently bs, this “oh if only the Iranians weren’t so unreasonable, we wouldn’t have to do this” crap — if the US attacks, those who were providing this kind of lip service will own it just as much as Bush will. Push back actively, or else admit that you are just as much an enabler as the AEI guys by providing political cover with this kind of rhetoric!!


  14. kyle says:

    I have been trying to post about how Steves many earlier scoop hints matched quite obviously with Javad Zarif`s appearance at the big Carnegie Endowment gig the other day.,zgp,zru&proj=zdrl,zme,znpp,zusr
    * International diplomat (Check, UN)
    * Big audience, NYT, WaPo (Guess so)
    * Important to US foreign policy (Its Iran or lumber imports 😉 )
    * Thanks to a significant think tank “in town” (CE, DC)
    * Neocons alleged the story was European fabrication (They have been loud on Iran)
    * Something close to Steves heart he recently learned,0,4989084.story?coll=la-home-world
    * Feb 6th (Check)


  15. Tony Foresta says:

    Sad that government representatives of our perceived enemies are far more articulate, intelligent, and “logical”, not to mention realistic, and honest than the fascists warmongers, profiteers and chickenhawk blowhards in masquarading as our leadership.
    “Deliver us form evil!”


  16. Marky says:

    I’m quite interested to know who will be speaking about Iran at the conference. Can you give us some names now?


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